Being a small business owner is so glamorous and straightforward, right?
You can work whenever you want, determine your income and make your own rules. It’s the lifestyle that everyone wishes they had. Or is it?
We all know that running a small business is hard work. Really hard work.
While it is possible to set up your business so that it works for you, it takes time to get your business to that place. Until then, it is lots of hours, hard work, stress from being responsible for most (if not all) of the business, and constant re-evaluation of balance.
So how do you manage?
I don’t believe in a work-life balance. The two can blend together really well. It is a matter of working out your priorities and making sure that all of them are being fed, watered and tended to well. Sometimes one priority will require more attention and other times another priority will steal the show instead.
The important thing is to constantly evaluate the balance and communicate with everyone you are connected to about the shifting priorities. For example, I will sit down with my wife and explain the situation and together we can agree on the change in balance for a season in our lives, where needed.
While I delegate different tasks such as admin, marketing, accounting and some sales work, I still work extremely hard. Because of my priorities, regardless of my work load I have factored in a minimum amount of set time for family, philanthropic work (I am co-founder of a charity) and other important parts of my life each week.
If I have a particularly large workload I will simply work around my other personal commitments – even if it means getting up earlier so I can still have my minimum family time. Sounds crazy? I am far more productive and satisfied when my whole life’s priorities are being met. Longer hours are a rare and small price to pay for time with your family.
Are you one of those small business owners who finds it almost impossible to switch off from business when on holiday? Have you ever snuck work with you on your family holidays, too ashamed to say that you can’t let go? Do you check your emails under the table at dinner?
If so, you’re not a rare breed. This is symptomatic of running your own business.
However, this is not sustainable and actually not conducive to productivity and is not a good working habit.
These Christmas holidays, make sure you:
1. Do all the work you can leading up to the holidays, and then switch off.
2. Create to-do lists where you can see what tasks you have ticked off the list. This is a good reminder of your accomplishments and is a good brain-dump. Practice writing down everything you need to do in the immediate time plus in the future, and then don’t think about it again. Only look at the to-do list when you have time to delegate or complete tasks.
3. If you must work on holidays, set time for work and only look at emails or think about work-related activity in that time. When the time is over – switch off.
4. Do something that exercises the parts of your brain that can’t compete for your attention when you are busy running your business. For me, that is creative outlets such as painting.
What about you? How do you have a life and find your definition of balance when running a small business?